The United States and the Middle East: The End of the American Century?

AHA Session 203
Saturday, January 5, 2013: 2:30 PM-4:30 PM
Preservation Hall, Studio 7 (New Orleans Marriott)
Salim Yaqub, University of California, Santa Barbara

Session Abstract

The Arab revolutions and counterrevolutions of the past year have altered the geo-political landscape of the Middle East and its relationship to and with the United States.  From the Arab world’s rapidly changing political environment to constraints on the U.S.’s economic, political, and military power, American hegemony in the region appears to be waning.  Our proposed interdisciplinary panel explores different aspects of the relationship between the United States and the Middle East from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present.  It seeks to interrogate and answer the questions: is it the end of the American century in the Middle East?  Is American power in decline or merely changing form? Will the Middle East remain a contested space for American power?

In keeping with the conference theme of “Lives, Places, Stories,” this panel offers distinct but intersecting case studies that examine and raise further questions about the implications of Washington’s actions and policies on the lives of those in the region and in the United States.  What is the relationship between the U.S.’s national security policies and the borders of the area called the 'Middle East'?  How has the reliance on and attempts to control hydrocarbons served to inspire American military action in the Middle East over the past century?  What role did Iraq play in helping the U.S. establish and then undermine the postwar petroleum order?  How has the United States responded to and attempted to shape recent political changes in the region?  Finally, how did individual and institutional agents accept or contest American power in the Middle East over the course of the 'American Century'?

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